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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Deregulation fever hits House committee: They vote to cut oversight of about 30 professions



A proposal to deregulate interior designers, geologists, landscape architects, dance studios, mold inspectors, hair braiders and more than 20 other professions passed through the House business and community affairs committee today. Backers of the measure say it will boost the economy by making it easier for people to open small businesses.

The matter prompted lengthy and emotional (yes) public testimony from people on both sides of the interior design issue. More than once, committee chairman Esteban Bovo remarked on the "passion" in the room.

Speakers came all the way from New Jersey and New Hampshire to argue for deregulating the commercial interior design industry. Supporters say the regulations merely support a monopoly by an interior design "cartel." Opponents say it's a public safety, health and welfare issue, and appropriate training and certification is critical to making sure designers of commercial spaces don't recommend flammable paints, disease carrying fabrics and blocking exits. (As for blocking exits, supporters of deregulation say building and fire safety codes can take care of that. No response to the dangerous paints and fabrics.)

The public testimony on the issue was extensive, and lawmakers asked pointed questions. For example, Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg,  wanted to know if experience strategically hanging of Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd posters in his college dorm room would qualify him to be an interior designer, even if he wasn't licensed. The answer, was, yes. 

Apparently, that disturbed Rouson. He cast his vote against the bill with the losing side, saying:  "I know we're trying to stimulate business, stimulate employment, stimulate jobs, but there are reasons to protect people."

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 3:07pm]


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